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Special Event

Voting on Ashcroft Nomination Begins in the Senate

Aired February 1, 2001 - 1:35 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers here, we are watching the last minutes and the last statement of the speaker before the vote on John Ashcroft as Mr. Bush's nominee for attorney general of the United States. You see the majority leader, Republican Trent Lott speaking -- let's listen to him.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: John Ashcroft is a good man of high veracity that will keep his word. Senator Byrd said yesterday, I believe it was, in his speech, he has made a commitment, he's going to uphold the law. What more should we want, a pound of flesh? I realize this is all about other things, and that's OK, but it's unfair to this man.

Maybe the raven will be heard nevermore; but forever more, you can quote me on this and remind me on this: John Ashcroft will go on to be one of the best attorney generals we've ever had. He will be conscientious, he will show capability, he will be sensitive, he will be honest, he will enforce the laws, some laws that have been ignored the last eight years; and maybe there's some people that are a little nervous about that.

But I'm here, as we say in all kinds of different circles in America, to vouch for this man. I vouch for John Ashcroft. I will stand by him. And you mark my words, he will go on to be a great and valuable attorney general.

So let's move on. Let work together like I know we can do. I accept the olive branch extended by Senator Russ Feingold -- that's what he said, I extend the olive branch -- to show a willingness to work together and reach across the aisle and across all the other things that could divide us. He showed courage and I won't forget it. In fact, I think maybe I didn't forget it in advance, because we've already worked out an agreement on how we're going to bring up a bill he cares a lot about.

But that was an important statement on his part. I accept it, we accept it, and that's the way we should proceed. This new president has changed the tone in this city, absolutely. People are astounded by his willingness to reach out and to listen and to be heard. He's meeting with everybody; he's even going to the motion pictures with them. So he's doing his part, let's make sure the Senate does its part. Vote for John Ashcroft -- you won't regret it -- and then let's move on to important legislation.

Let's argue about ideas, let's argue about how to make education better. Let's argue about how to give tax relief -- return to sender, as the senator from Georgia said. That's what the people want us to talk about. They want to get this vicious and partisan stuff behind us and deal with real issues. I don't think insurmountable damage has been done, and I do believe that we can build on the other things that we've done in the last month.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is, does the Senate advise in consent to denomination of John Ashcroft of Missouri to be attorney general? The yeas and nays have been ordered, the clerk will call the roll.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Akaka, Mr. Allard, Mr. Allen, Mr. Baucus...

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And the vote will begin now on Capitol Hill for John Ashcroft. Will he be the attorney general of the United States? Many expect that he will, but as you well know by now, his is a controversial nomination.

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